France committed to closing its oldest nuclear reactor by 2017

France says it is committed to closing the Fessenheim nuclear reactor by 2017
France says it is committed to closing the Fessenheim nuclear reactor by 2017 Reuters/Vincent Kessler/Files

The French Energy Minister says the government is committed to closing the country’s oldest nuclear reactor by 2017. Two people were burnt in an accident there earlier this week.


On Wednesday, a steam leak injured two workers at the Fessenheim plant in eastern France, near the Swiss and German borders.

After Japan’s Fukushima disaster Germany decided to phase out nuclear power.

Green campaigners want France, which has 58 nuclear power stations, to do the same, which has been the source of dispute between the Green party and the Socialists ahead of next year’s presidential campaign. 

Speaking on the French radio station France Info, the Ecology and Energy Minister, Delphine Batho, said: “Fessenheim will be closed as soon as possible in socially and technically responsible conditions.”

“Nuclear plants are being phased out across the world in coming years and this is an industrial issue for France," she said. 

France, the world's most nuclear-dependent country, operates 58 reactors and has been a leading international proponent of atomic energy.

But in a deal with the Greens before this year's parliamentary and presidential elections, President Francois Hollande's Socialist party promised to reduce reliance on nuclear energy from more than 75 percent to 50 percent by shutting 24 reactors by 2025.

Hollande had also pledged to close Fessenheim by 2017.

France's reliance on nuclear power has been increasingly called into question since the Fukushima disaster in Japan, which prompted Germany to announce plans to shut down all of its reactors by the end of 2022.

On stream since 1977, Fessenheim has two water reactors. It is built along a huge canal and draws water for cooling from the Rhine river.

The plant is considered vulnerable to seismic activity and flooding because of its location.


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